Monday, April 25, 2011

Blowhard to Richardson. Part III

Had a day off for Easter Sunday and had planned to ride with Chris up the Blowhard again, during daylight hours this time for a change having decided not to travel all the way to ride with the PFMTBC boys and SWTCHBCKR on the Twin Fenceline track on Banks Peninsula, as I wouldn't have time to get back for T's family dinner afterwards. I finally contacted Chris on Saturday and found he was busy all day so decided to go on my own seeing as I had also turned down my own family Easter lunch as well. The weather dawned fantastically with little wind and about 24 degrees or so by the time I got to the start of the track at 11am. The track was drier than last time but still felt plenty steep and I resorted to granny ring on the 4wd section early to try and preserve my legs longer for the steepest parts. I was determined this time to make it to the top of Mt Richardson, as I had plenty of time and no light issues to worry about. I was feeling pretty slow for the first hour though, which is normal for me in the morning for some reason. I got to the top of the steep stuff in 1 hour which included talking to a couple of hunters for about 4 or 5 minutes just below the top. The ridgetop section was dryer also and made for easier climbing and the few descents were much faster, although having perfect lighting was helping that also. I got to the first clearing faster than I was expecting and had a look about, took some more photos and had a muesli bar. I spotted someone across the clearing about 300m away in an orange flouro top and watched them for a few minutes, I think they were doing the same... I dropped down the sketchy as ridge line and back up towards the flouro guy and saw him walking towards the track. I got there after a few minutes and had a chat, he was hunting and had walked up the Mt Richardson track. After leaving him a few minutes later I came across a tramper having a rest near the top of the Bypass track summit but didn't stop this time. Heading past the Bypass track I noticed the sign said 3.2km to Mt Richardson and guestimated when I got to the point we turned back last time when my light died we were about 1.5km short of the top. The track from then on though is the best although there were a few sections I had to walk still on the way up. I turned left at the intersection and picked my way through the muddy rut track to the top which was mostly rideable and enjoyed the great views out to Mt Oxford and the Torlesses. I then heard more voices and passed 4 trampers heading the opposite direction and a minute later made it to the top. I took a few pics and called home (good reception on the cell there!!!) Then headed back at 1pm. I also checked the altitudes at the car park (299m) and the top (1048m) so the climb and decent where 749m each. I guess with the ups and downs included there would be about 1000m total.

I picked my way across the very rooty top section and through the muddy rut trying to avoid spraying mud all over the bike. Then hit the main trail. It felt great and I had much more confidence right away being able to see properly. I was still a little careful seeing as I was on my own though. Really enjoyed the trail across the top this time and loved the variety of surfaces to ride. I passed the trampers again on a rocky climb and made that look really difficult but made it to the top, then met up with the first 2 hunters I passed on the way up, giving one a fright as he didn't notice me coming. I stopped before them and had another yarn before bombing down the big open clearing and into the steep sketchy climb again. I took the climb sections along the ridge steadily and found myself at the top of the big steep section way faster than I expected. Came down that carefully but nice and clean and then started to bomb the way down, feeling really smooth and grippy in the corners it was a real blast and you could really let the speed climb being able to see clearly what was ahead. Got down to the 4wd turn around puddle and grunted up the little climb there before the last exit section to the car. Got there at 2.15pm so all up 3 hours 15 minutes (including lots of stops to look around and talking to the hunters) and 1 hour 15 to descend from the top. So finally I have made it all the way to the top and back, this time with no incidents either (and I have the photo to prove I was at the top too!) Excellent ride.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Eastside Fogfest...

Met up with Chris at his place about 5pm and headed out towards Sumner after he finished fixing a flat from dropping off the massive crack in the road beside the river on Fitzgerald ave. Saw some of the damage out there from the quake with the cliffs at Redcliffs being the most incredible even after seeing pictures of them. We decided to pull up at the end of Redcliffs and headed up Mulgans track. The bottom part had a bit of rockfall on it which had been cleared a little to make a tricky little chicane and the rest of the track was pretty good from there. Apart from it being fairly steep and the switchbacks super tight. I managed to ride the first section apart from most of the corners and then all but the steeps at the bottom of the next section which was even steeper. It took me about 15 seconds to get going on that as it was so steep. Then walked most of the last steppy section as I was pretty buggered by that stage. We made the road in about 10 to 15 minutes I guess so it was a very fast way to get up. Cruised the road to the start of the single track from the top of the houses that leads to the summit road. The fog was rolling in here and the pines beside the road were doing a great job of combing the water from the air and dripping it like rain all over the track!!! It was still firm, but a bit greasy in a few places and this combined with my lack of fitness meant I was owned by most of the little steep techy climbs and got dropped by Chris. We pushed on through the thickening fog and both noted the eeriness of the scene as the large pines at the top loomed into view.

From there we cruised along the road in thick for towards Greenwood track. Along the way a couple of long board riders sailed by through the mist and then about 300 metres from Greenwood we cleared the fog and could see the last rays for the sunset leaking over the Southern Alps and the huge bank of see mist rolling inland. It looked pretty clear out home still. We headed across Greenwood to the old gun emplacements without lighting and this and my lack of finesse on the rocky parts slowed me down a fair bit, although Chris had the luxury of 6 inches of travel to flatten out those bit somewhat. At the top we set up out lights and headed down into the mist again. The poor visibility making it fairly impossible to see what was on the track on the fast sections. I was quite pleased to be not far behind Chris for the first 2/3 or so of the track but was getting tired and caught out at the 2 little rocky climbs near the end also which slowed me up considerably. I definitely noticed how much slower I was after not being on the track or that kind of terrain for so long, but slowly gathered a bit of confidence. I am sure it would be much easier without the fog though.

With Captain Thomas still closed due to quake danger we headed along Godley Head track. I managed a good deal of the first steep climb before losing traction, but Chris cruised up no worries on his tractor/bike. We picked out way along OK until about 15mins in on a little climb I somehow pushed the front out wide to the right against the bank where it connected with a piece of rock jutting out about 50mm about midway up the wheel. This stopped the bike instantly and despite no going overly quick I cannoned forward until I hit something, likely the rock wall beside me or just the front of the bike, most of the impact was on my knee against the handlebar stem and my ankle on something else. I rebounded back and to the left over the side of the track leaping off the bike and running down the slope until it flatted a bit (about 8 metres or so). As I was running I thought I was fine and then as I neared the flatter spot the pain started to increase in my knee. I dropped and writhed about for a minute as it ramped up until I was about to vomit (like when you get kicked in the nuts!!!) I felt like I hadn't done any major damage though and hoped it would ease soon enough and I could keep going. I had fingers crossed it didn't swell to much though. After about 5 minutes it wasn't to bad and I got back up to where my bike was beside the track and found the rear flashy had fallen apart in the impact with the ground and reassembled it again. I gingerly continued on and about 1 minute later met up with Chris who was coming back to see where I had gotten to. We continued down in the fog which forced a very slow pace and then I took a wrong turn and had to go back. I was looking for the new section that was being worked on last time I was there, but never found it. By the time I got to the last climb before Breeze Col and the Anaconda my knee felt pretty good again. I remember thinking though that the technical rocky bits coming up were going to be tough though, but I managed to either pick my way through very skilfully or they had been cleaned out a bit to make them easier??? Anyway I cleaned them well and met Chris at the top of the Conda.

We dropped in just in front of some runners and in some parts you couldn't even see what the track surface was or what shape it was so it was pretty freaky going at a reasonable clip down. I surprised that I managed to keep pretty close to Chris all the way down, but was still slower than normal and not getting much air on the jumps. We both avoided the new jump as you could see nothing beyond it with the lights. Had a nice run down though and enjoyed the Tail ride out to Taylors also, although the last 2 sections have got really rough since I last rode there.

Slow climb out of Taylors without the customary race to the top and headed down through the park where I forgot to put my light on full, the cruised across the seafront at Sumner. We had a little race around the waterfront to the car which I was behind for most of but eventually Chris's big tyres got to much for him and I got past in the last 100m. Got back to the car and headed to Maccas Linwood and dinned in the 'Restaurant'. Then dropped Chris home and headed home via the supermarket myself.

My knee was pretty good in the end, used the ice from my drink at Maccas to help bruising and had to chuck a sticky plaster on to keep dirt out of the cut. All good now.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Blowhard Part II...End of daylight...

Second ride back from my hiatus and why not go for another leisurely jaunt up the Blow Hard again? After all we failed to make it to the end last time due to lack of light and being unsure of the decent under lights. Of course that was not to bad if you actually had a light that was operational...
Anyway I met Chris at my place after work (Rich had a prearranged whanau commitment so was unable to make it) at my place and he unloaded his new 7'' travel Marin rig and we loaded it into the trusty Corona with my Genius/Merida on the rack and headed off. 15 minutes later and we were enjoying the sweet smell of the bush at the bottom of the track and getting ready. On up and it seemed a lot tougher than last week right from the get go, or possibly I was going a touch faster, but either way I was on the limit in middle ring from the get go. We ran into a hunter coming back down the track who said he had had a good day, but didn't elaborate any more and was not carrying any wild beast either, so maybe it had just been good weather? At least it was OK down below where we were, with no wind and no cloud so that was good. The problem was the sun was going down faster than we were going up and I was keen to make it to the clearing in time to take some photos and check out the view. With that in mind I was pushing myself harder than last time but not trying to ride as far up the steepest sections as I could so that when I had to stop and push I still had some O2 in the blood and could move forward at a reasonable pace rather than have to crawl for the first 30 seconds. This tactic seemed to work better and we managed to keep a steady pace up and with Chris pushing the big bike I was about the same speed as him for the most part. We got to the top of the steep section and I didn't have to stop for a food break this time and we continued on, riding more than last time but still pushing a few sections we should be riding really. On the short decent sections across the top I was feeling slow, but better than last week, so I was happy with that. Chris was pretty sharp on his new bike though of course.

Finally we broke out of the bush with a few rays of light still creeping over the Alps, allowing a good view and a couple of pics but the wind was back to normal up there, howling! The result being that the photos in low light and high wind being pretty blurred and crap really. Never mind. We cruised down the steep drop beyond where we turned around last time and made our way back up the ridge towards Mt Richardson. Had to skirt around a bit of muddy stuff a few times but other than that the trail was mint. Had the odd issue with the wind and lack of fitness and then low light (this was the last night with daylight saving in place) so switched on the light to low. I forgot to charge the battery so figured after the last ride it should be good for several hours on low still. About 5 minutes later though it went out and I was left in near darkness. I carried on up to where Chris was waiting and told him about the light. He was keen to go back now anyway. I slowly made my way back down barely able to see the track and Chris waited for me a few times. We decided to go back the way we came rather than go down the walk track to Glentui (I figured it could be a fast way down and my light should go on low for another burst maybe 5 or 10 minutes if I was lucky). I borrowed Chris's backup light and mounted it on my bars which made it point of centre to the left a little but was heaps better than riding in pitch black (no moon either). We made surprisingly good time across the top and at times I was able to ride close behind Chris and see with his light. At the top of the steep decent down to the bottom I stopped and put my light on low and crossed fingers it would last. Chris bombed down and I picked my way down the top section getting near the flatter section before clipping my bar on a tree and coming off. I landed mainly on my back so was protected by all the soft clothing in my bag so got up as fast as possible to not waste the light and re-mounted hoping the bike was OK. It seemed to be anyway and I only had a bump on the elbow and a scrape on the leg which was pretty good seeing how far I fell down and the rocky stuff I was riding. I think I landed on some loose rocks so not to bad. On down I went and was enjoying the decent and could see by the marks on the track that Chris was also...Was near the top of the 4wd section when the light died again, so had to slow right down to get down the last 2 to 3 hundred metres or so and then crawled the 4wd road section. The off centre light meaning I had to scan to the right to see the track properly and right bends in the road were blind as. This lead to me not seeing a rut in the road on a right hand bend in time and nearly coming off again. I had to half bail into some broom bushes but stayed upright at least. Got down in the end and started to load the car when a guy on a quad bike came up and started talking. We had a chat for a while and it turned out to be a guy I knew from school years ago. Chris said only in NZ!!! Came home and had a couple of beers. Nice.